Longboat considers hiring attorney to fight roundabout

Editor & Publisher

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the City of Sarasota maintain they will build a roundabout at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue at the base of the Ringling Bridge. The plan has been fought on many levels by the Town of Longboat Key and hiring an attorney may represent its latest initiative.

Longboat Town Manager Tom Harmer and former Mayor George Spoll were met with the news on March 19 that both FDOT and the City are moving ahead with the roundabout project and plan to award a construction contract in September.

Although this is not the outcome Longboat town officials desire, some of the town’s requests are being honored.

Simply put, the Town wished to delay the project and initiate a formal study of what is called the triple left turn lane modification that has reportedly improved traffic flow for cars descending from the Ringling Bridge and turning left, or north, toward Fruitville Road. The intersection has historically been a “pinch point” where traffic would back up on most afternoons in the busy season all the way to St. Armands Circle and sometimes to Publix on Longboat Key.

Longboat Key fears that the roundabout could make matters worse.

Longboat Key last year commissioned an engineering review of the data that FDOT has made its determination and basis for approving a roundabout as an acceptable solution. The re-review of the data did not sway the FDOT nor the City.

The City of Sarasota wants a roundabout as part of its multi-modal and pedestrian-friendly transportation initiative. Roundabouts have become ubiquitous in downtown Sarasota with several installed and additional roundabouts under construction at 10th Street, Fruitville Road and 14th Street. The City says the roundabouts will be safer for pedestrians and move traffic more efficiently.

And although the Town of Longboat Key has not won its battle to either stall or alter the planned roundabout at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, two initiatives have been adopted that represent Longboat’s interests.

First, the FDOT says it will create a strategy to minimize lane closures during the season by creating a continuous loop for traffic ingress and egress from the barrier islands during the construction phase. They believe this concept will function better than the current triple left turn lane.

The other initiative is to attempt to reduce the construction time frame, which is estimated at 550 days, by 100 days.

The FDOT District Secretary has directed his staff to look at construction options including daytime construction approach as well as an around-the-clock construction approach.


Possible legal challenge

Town Manager Tom Harmer and the Town Attorney will ask the Longboat Key Commission at its April 6 meeting if it wishes to engage outside legal counsel to further challenge the FDOT and the City for its roundabout plan. The retainer would cost a minimum of $2,500.

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3 Responses for “Longboat considers hiring attorney to fight roundabout”

  1. Dave Swenson says:

    A roundabout is the most efficient solution. If you’ve ever been to Europe, you will see that they are EVERYWHERE. Traffic moves. If you travel Webber Road and hit the Roundabout at Honore DURING RUSH HOUR, what you will witness is a alternating flow of traffic. As there is a gap in the flow in one direction, the opposite side will take over. You increase overall efficiency by 40%. Signal lights are much more dangerous and more people and cars are in accidents….not glancing blows that MAY occur with a roundabout. If St. Armands and Longboat Key want people to explore those areas during high season, the roundabout is the SOLUTION.

  2. Well Everyone,

    I have been visiting Longboat key with my family for approx 25 years.

    Its the greatest place to visit-SORRY-should have said WAS-I loved the old bridge but because of Financial QUICK people this lovely place has been SHOT TO HELL – in England we would say ITS

    What on earth are you Local Government officials and people doing to this fantastic place-well in a word RUINED.


    Shame on you all for ruining a paradise.

    We shall not return and probably not a lot of other people seeking paradise.

    STAY SAFE. even though you still have golf courses taking bookings-ARE YOU MAD!!

  3. Nancy Goldman says:

    The city of Sarasota can expect to lose significant revenue based on its handling of construction so far. First we had the red tide fiasco without real mitigation, next we had the traffic fiasco getting on and off the barrier islands with waits up to 2 hours, and now we have the impact of the coronavirus. Longboat Key has been a paradise and attracts people who have money to spend on restaurants, the theater, the orchestra, the ballet, Selby Gardens, and the Ringling. Many sadly will not come back as a result, a huge loss of revenue for Sarasota County. Time to make demands of the FDOT! Roundabouts are not good solutions to faster moving traffic, which could be better controlled by traffic light timing devices installed after smart analysis of traffic patterns. Use the data, folks!

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